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    On Tour | Kansas City, MO (2014)

    Behind the Scenes: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

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    • The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at 18th & Vine
      The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at 18th & Vine

      Hit up the historic 18th & Vine district of Kansas City, Missouri, and find the gold letters of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) emblazoned on the brick building that stands as a home to countless stories of excellent athleticism. The museum was founded in 1990 in Kansas City, the place where the Negro National League was founded in 1920.
    • Staying the Course
      Staying the Course

      During the late 1880s and early 1900s, black baseball players began forming teams associated with the military, colleges and work. They were banned from playing on Major League white teams in the United States, but did become involved in "barnstorming," in which they would play unofficial games against other teams, including Major League white teams, on occasion. The Negro National League, formed from a group of Midwest teams in 1920, played its first successful game at the YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri.
    • The Teams
      The Teams

      According to the NLBM, the term "Negro Leagues" refers to the highest level of play for black baseball during segregation. The teams of note in Missouri were the Kansas City Monarchs, the St. Louis Stars, and the St. Louis Giants. In 1945, Jackie Robinson joined the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro American League) and played with baseball legends Satchel Paige and Martin Dihigo. Major League teams began integrating in 1947, marking the beginning of the dissolution of the Negro Leagues because many of the top players were recruited to other teams. The Negro Leagues completely shut down in 1960.
    • The Field of Legends
      The Field of Legends

      The museum, designed by ESA Design's Lynda and Ed Scheele, is organized in the fashion of a baseball stadium. Visitors pass through turnstiles and are able to see the "Field of Legends," a baseball diamond with bronze All Star players modeled after the first group of former Negro Leagues players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The scoreboard shows two teams, "East" and "West," which were the typical groupings for Negro Leagues All-Star Games. The game was held annually starting in 1933.
    • Fantasy in the Field of Legends
      Fantasy in the Field of Legends

      Statues placed in the Field of Legends represent a sort of "dream team" from the Negro Leagues. These figures include "Rube" Foster, "Satchel" Paige, Josh Gibson, "Buck" Leonard, "Pop" Lloyd, "Judy" Johnson, Ray Dandridge, "Cool Papa" Bell, Oscar Charleston, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo, and "Buck" O'Neil.
    • Bronze Statues in the Field
      Bronze Statues in the Field

      Another angle of the players on the NLBM baseball diamond.
    • The Field of Legends
      The Field of Legends

      Before visitors can step onto the "Field of Legends," they walk the perimeter of the space, learning about the history of the leagues. "Patrons are purposely 'segregated' from this area," museum curator Ray Doswell said, "just as the ballplayers were segregated from Major League Baseball." Chicken wire is installed at the backstop of the field where visitors enter the museum. "Chicken wire was often used in this way at old stadiums," Doswell said. "It was also used to segregate visitors based on race laws in some stadiums."
    • ROADSHOW Takes a Closer Look
      ROADSHOW Takes a Closer Look

      Sometimes, signed baseballs come with an unexpected combination of signatures. This one from 1953, expert Leila Dunbar explained to host Mark L. Walberg, displays the signatures of four members of the Dodgers, including Jackie Robinson, and then on the reverse has the signature of Major League player Ty Cobb.
    • The Four Signatures
      The Four Signatures

      Here, you can see the signatures of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Joe Black, and Junior Gilliam, all of whom got their start in the Negro Leagues. In 1953, the Dodgers played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. "John Moore, Jackie Robinson's friend, happened to be there that day," Leila said, "and he had all four of them sign."
    • Behind the Scenes at the Shoot
      Behind the Scenes at the Shoot

      The ROADSHOW team sets up the shoot with Mark and Leila on the Field of Legends.
    • More on the History
      More on the History

      Interested in learning more about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum? Visit their website NLBM.com to find out about current exhibitions.
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